News / Asia

UN Conference on Rising Asia Food Prices Agrees to Avoid Past Mistakes

Workers piling sacks of rice at a government rice warehouse in Manila (file photo)
Workers piling sacks of rice at a government rice warehouse in Manila (file photo)
Daniel Schearf

Representatives attending a United Nations conference in Bangkok on the rising cost of food in Asia have agreed to avoid restrictive measures that could lead to a food price crisis.

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization brought together 19 countries in Asia, plus Japan and the United States, for two days of discussions on how to deal with rising food prices.

The FAO says globally, the cost of food in February reached the highest level it ever recorded and that prices could rise further as the price of oil goes up, affecting transport costs.

Ertharin Cousin is the U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. agencies in Rome. She told journalists late Thursday that they agreed not to repeat past mistakes that contributed to a dramatic rise in food prices a few years ago.

"Where you saw a consensus amongst all the participants was in an understanding of the lessons from 2007 and 2008,” Cousin said. “Particularly, the types of policies that can exacerbate the high price situation like export bans and stockpiling of food. And, a recognition that those kinds of actions, while interesting, are not the actions that any of the countries would recommend to their policy leaders for the response to high prices in the short term."

Cousin says export restrictions and panic buying a few years ago was almost entirely responsible for food price hikes.

At that time the cost of rice, Asia’s major staple, doubled in a matter of months.

Hiroyuki Konuma, the FAO's representative for Asia and the Pacific, says Burma confirmed it recently banned rice exports, but that it was a precaution taken every year before rice harvest and not related to rising world food prices.

"Because, normally before rice harvest season there is a shortage of normally stock and price generally goes up,” said Konuma. “So, naturally government tries to keep enough stock and discourage exporting food to abroad."

Currently the retail price of rice is up in Bangladesh by 33 percent from last year and in China and Indonesia by 23 percent.

But the region’s major producers, Thailand and Vietnam, are having good harvests that are expected to keep prices steady overall.

Nonetheless, representatives at the U.N. meeting also agreed that countries should put in place safety nets to help women, children, the poor and others vulnerable to rising food prices.

They also pledged to better support investment in agriculture, which the FAO says has dropped significantly as a proportion of development assistance and national budgets.

Pushpanathan Sundram is the deputy secretary general of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

"If you really want to meet the growing demand for food then I think we really need to put focus on research and innovation and technology,” Pushpanathan said. “Yeah, so I think, here is where again working the private sector will be one key aspect of achieving this important aim."

The Asia food price conference in Bangkok was the first of several regional meetings the FAO plans to help countries better deal with and prevent rising food costs.

You May Like

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Researcher: Obesity Poses Complex Problem

Professor at Symposium on Obesity, Diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome says problem involves more than calorie intake, warns of worldwide health impact More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thoughti
X
George Putic
May 26, 2015 9:26 PM
Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.

VOA Blogs